Paperwork Needed to Sell a Vehicle

Required Documents

In order to sell a vehicle, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles requires certain forms to be completed or obtained by the seller. This paperwork may seem daunting, but it is essential to ensure a smooth transfer of ownership and to prevent post-sale civil liability issues from arising.

Title certificates have a section called the “Transfer of Title by Seller” section. In order to provide accurate information on this portion of the form, a vehicle inspection report will be needed. This report is acquired from a certified mechanic. It includes an accurate reading of the odometer, which is required to be disclosed to the buyer for vehicles that are less than ten years old. Vehicles that are ten years and older do not require verification of mileage.

A physical copy of the title itself is also required in order to sell a vehicle. This must be signed and dated by both the buyer and seller. If this document is being electronically stored by the seller, as may be the case, a paper copy will need to be requested in order to proceed with the sale. There is currently no way to transfer an existing electronic title.

An active lien on a vehicle means that the owner has not completed repayment of a loan, and the vehicle is subject to repossession by the lender if the debt is not paid. This responsibility would transfer to the buyer if the vehicle were sold without removal of the lien. If the vehicle to be sold has an existing lien, it will need to be cleared off before the vehicle transfer is complete. To show that the lien has been successfully removed, the seller will need to provide a lien satisfaction document.

An additional piece of documentation that may be required is VIN verification. VIN verification is required only when the existing title is for a different state. This requirement can be fulfilled by having any authorized person — such as a licensed dealer, notary public or tax collector employee — physically inspect and verify the VIN number on the vehicle.

A notice of sale should be filed with the tax collector office once a vehicle has exchanged hands. It contains details about the transaction and is a required document for full completion of the transfer. The form is called HSMV 82050. It officially removes the seller’s registration information from the vehicle. It also transfers liability for the operation of the vehicle from the seller to the new owner. This is an important step to ensure that legal issues do not arise for a seller regarding a vehicle that they no longer have in their possession.

The notice of sale form should be completed as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days after the transaction has taken place. A late transfer penalty fee may be applied if the form is not submitted in a timely manner.